TSX Ends Higher On Upbeat U.S. Jobs Data -- Canadian Commentary

(RTTNews.com) - Canadian stocks moved up for a fourth straight session to end at a new six-month high Friday, on some upbeat U.S. jobs data with a slew of buoyant Canadian earnings reports lifting sentiment.

In some significant economic news, employment in the U.S. rose much more than anticipated in April, with a much bigger than expected drop in the unemployment rate, a Labor Department report showed Friday.

Nonetheless, eurozone unemployment rate held on to a high level for a third successive month in March, suggesting the economic recovery not yet strong enough to improve the labor market.

News on the merger & acquisitions front and some fairly steady crude oil and bullion prices also contributed to the uptick.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed Tuesday at 14,765.15, up 101.08 points or 0.69 percent. The index scaled an intraday high of 14,765.15 and a low of 14,664.48.

Crude oil ended higher on some upbeat data showing U.S. jobs to have surged more than anticipated in April, helping lift growth prospects for crude.

The Energy Index gained 0.91 percent, with U.S. crude oil futures for June delivery, adding $0.34 or 0.3 percent to close at $99.76 a barrel Friday on the Nymex.

Among energy stocks, Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) added 0.80 percent, Husky Energy Inc. (HSE.TO) up 0.22 percent and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ.TO) up 0.49 percent. Suncor Energy Inc. (SU.TO) added 1.62 percent, while Canadian Oil Sands Limited (COS.TO) moved up 0.70 percent.

Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.TO) added 1.62 percent, while Penn West Petroleum Ltd. (PWT.TO) gained 3.29 percent.

The Capped Healthcare Index dropped 0.16 percent as Catamaran Corp. (CCT.TO) added 0.41 percent, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (VRX.TO) dropped 1.08 percent.

Gold futures ended higher as investors sought the safe haven appeal of the precious metal on renewed concerns over the situation in eastern Ukraine.

The Global Gold Index gained 2.35 percent, with gold futures for June delivery, jumping $19.50 or 1.5 percent to close at $1,302.90 an ounce Friday on the Nymex.

Among gold stocks, Agnico Eagle Mines Limited (AEM.TO) jumped 9.59 percent, after reporting a profit of 63 cents per share for the first quarter, up from 14 cents per share in the previous year, and a loss of $2.61 per share in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Yamana Gold Inc. (YRI.TO) added 1.11 percent, Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO) added 1.57 percent, and B2Gold Corp. (BTO.TO) moved up 1.62 percent. Osisko Mining Corp. (OSK.TO) added 3.07 percent, while Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) gained 1.97 percent.

The Capped Materials Index added1.68 percent, with Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) up 1.11 percent.

Goldcorp Inc. (G:TO) added 2.36 percent, Silver Wheaton Corp. (SLW.TO) gained 1.68 percent and Franco-Nevada Corporation (FNV.TO) advanced 2.77 percent.

The heavyweight Financial Index added 0.47 percent with the Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) up 0.19 percent, Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) up 0.34 percent, and The Bank of Nova Scotia ( BNS ) added 0.50 percent. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) gained 0.15 percent, while National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) gained 0.26 percent.

The Diversified Metals & Mining Index slipped 0.09 percent, with Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) up 1.06 percent, First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.TO) up 0.05 percent, and Teck Resources Limited (TCK.B.TO) down 0.39 percent.

The Information Technology Index gained 1.16 percent, with BlackBerry Limited (BB.TO) up 2.40 percent.

Among other tech stocks, Constellation Software Inc (CSU.TO) gained 3.62 percent, while Celestica Inc. (CLS.TO) and Avigilon Corp. (AVO.TO) added 1.45 percent and 1.69 percent, respectively.

The Capped Industrials Index added 1.26 percent, with Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B.TO) up 0.48 percent and Air Canada (AC.B) moved up 1.42 percent.

In corporate news, Canadian newspaper publisher Torstar Corp. (TS.B.TO) surged 22.01 percent after announcing that it will sell Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, a publisher of fiction books for women, to mass media company News Corp. for C$455 million in cash, a portion of which Torstar intends to use for reducing debt.

SNC-Lavalin Group, Inc. (SNC.TO) jumped 5.08 percent after agreeing to sell its subsidiary AltaLink to billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Energy for C$3.2 billion, or US$2.9 billion. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2014.

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (FFH.TO) gained 3.22 percent after reporting its net income increased sharply to US$784.6 million in the first quarter, compared to US$161.6 million in the prior-year quarter.

Gildan Activewear Inc (GIL.TO) jumped 6.49 percent after reporting net earnings of US$0.64 per share for the second quarter, at the upper end of the guidance range it had provided earlier.

Vermilion Energy Inc	(VET.TO) edged up 0.08 percent after reporting net earnings of $1.00 per share, up from $0.53 in the first quarter last year. 

TransCanada Corp. (TRP.TO) inched up 0.02 percent after reporting first-quarter net income attributable to shares of C$412 million or C$0.58 per share, compared to C$446 million or C$0.63 per share in first quarter 2013.

In economic news, non-farm payroll employment surged by 288,000 jobs in April compared to economists' estimates for an increase of about 218,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent.

The report also showed upward revisions to the job growth in the two previous months, with employment up 203,000 jobs in March and 222,000 jobs in February.

A report from the U.S. Commerce Department showed factory orders to have risen 1.1 percent in March following a downwardly revised 1.5 percent increase in February. The pace of growth, however, was slower as economists had been expecting orders to increase by about 1.5 percent in the month.

Eurozone's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 11.8 percent in March, unchanged from February, after revisions to data from the previous months, figures from Eurostat showed Friday. Economists expected the rate steady at February's original 11.9 percent.

The jobless rate has been at 11.8 percent since December 2013, Eurostat said. In March last year, the figure was 12 percent.

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